Saving Money on Gas with a Four Day Work Week

July 10, 2008

How much money would you save on gas each month if you only had to drive into work four days a week?  As gas prices climb, businesses, government, and consumers are looking for creative ways to cut fuel costs; one of the methods being used is working four 10 hour days instead of 9–5, five days a week.

Desire to Drive Less
In a recent employee survey at my job, one of the most frequent requests was the option to work from home or work a four day week.  I have little faith that our company will allow these changes but there are governments and businesses around the country that are trying them out.

Government Reducing Energy Costs
Just last week, Utah announced it’s state workers would be in the office ten hours a day Monday through Thursday and that offices would be closed on Friday.  The state estimates it will save $3 million a year in energy costs by reducing lighting, heating, and air conditioning usage.  Of course, state employees will benefit by saving money on gas during the one year trial period.  Hopefully the government will deem the one year trial successful and the model will become more widespread.

Benefits of a Shorter Week
Not only would I save money on gas if I could work 4 days a week, I’d also save a lot of time and reduce my stress levels.  A major highway I drive on is down to one lane for summer construction making my afternoon commutes home a miserable, time-wasting experience.  Even when there is no construction, I spend at least an hour a day driving to and from work; which of course pales in comparison to some people who spend two or three hours a day commuting.

The gasoline savings have come in particularly handy for workers that are paid a lower hourly rate and have long commutes into work.  A local company put the four day work week into effect once gas prices hit $3 a gallon for this reason.  A lot of the workers were earning $8–10 an hour and spending $70 a week on gas, basically working almost one whole day just to pay for gas for the week.

Challenges of a Four Day Week
There are definitely people and companies that are opposed to working only four days a week.  I don’t see a way our office could shut down every Friday due to the needs of the industry we work in.  In addition, some salaried employees are already working 10 hour days, but for 5 days a week instead of 4.  Cutting back to only working Monday through Friday would probably make it challenging for the company to keep up with it’s current work load.

One issue encountered by the Utah state workers was finding child care for the longer hours.  Also, some workers that don’t drive to work but take the bus or commuter train instead were running into issues finding transportation earlier in the morning and later in the evening.

The MSNBC article included one lady who’s been working 10 hour shifts for a long time who brought up the fact it’s “harder to make doctor’s appointments and do other errands Monday through Thursday, and working longer hours can be rough.”

Adapting to the Times
It will be interesting to see how government and corporations respond to higher energy costs and how they can adapt their policies to help minimize these costs.  Personally, I’d love to work four ten-hour days so I hope the trend continues.  What do you think?  Do you already work longer shifts for fewer days?  If not, would you want to?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Responses to Saving Money on Gas with a Four Day Work Week

  • Alisa

    I started a flexible work arrangement (fwa) when I decided to get my Master’s Degree while working full-time and then decided to keep the schedule once I finished school.

    This arrangement is great. Although it does take some getting use to the longer days during the four days that I work, I just have to make sure I base myself. And for whatever reason ( I am noe exactly sure why) I find that I am much more productive.

    Be well.

  • Ben

    Jennifer, if some of the big auto-makers move to a four day week that might really help make it a trend.

    Rick , every other Friday off sounds pretty good. In reality, many people work 9 hours a day anyhow even though they’re only required to put in an 8-hour day. Having a day off every other week would be a nice way of taking back some of that time in addition to helping save on gas.

  • Rick

    For years I have been working 9 hour days with every other Friday off. It is a huge success. Four tens would be even better.

  • Jennifer

    Hey Ben – this totally makes sense – my husband’s company is thinking about going to 4 10-hour days and he works for a huge automaker who is environmentally concerned… and with the industry in a slump – it makes sense for everyone!


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